Reflections from my First Week in Siem Reap, Cambodia
Week One in Siem Reap Cambodia
I’m teaching, traveling, and living in Siem Reap, Cambodia for the next ten weeks. Each week, I’ll share a snapshot of what we’re up to.
My intention is to share with you what it’s like to live in Southeast Asia and share my teaching experiences with you. I hope to provide insights on life in Cambodia while connecting with (and learning from) readers! So please feel free to comment on these posts! 🙂
Getting off the Plane in Siem Reap, Cambodia
I had no idea what to expect upon arriving in Cambodia. I read books and watched YouTube videos but of course nothing compares to the real thing. After stepping off the plane, I immediately felt the warm air (drastically different from my home state of Minnesota where there was still heaps of snow on the ground as I departed), the lovely smell of incense, and saw the beautiful tropical plants surrounding me. Taking the tuk tuk ride to the guesthouse reminded me of Mexico when I visited on vacation with my family. Dirt roads, warm air, motorcycles, and people hanging around outside.
Day Two in Siem Reap, Cambodia
It wasn’t until the second day that I was able to see the town clearly in daylight. I could immediately sense that I was seen as an outsider. To be honest, I did not think people would be able to tell I was foreign (from my skin tone, hair, and Asian-like facial features). However, my clothes and camera bag were obvious signs, as well as the fact that I was constantly looking around, examining where I would be living for the next 10 weeks.
Initial Impressions of Siem Reap, Cambodia
I also did not realize how “Las Vegas” Siem Reap truly was until we went out to Khnar school for the Khmer New Year party. The scenery and environment on the tuk tuk ride to the party reminded me of my Indian reservation back home. Little kids riding together on big bikes, small homes built with the bare minimum, and open space grasslands. Another great aspect of Cambodia so far is that the food is absolutely delicious!
Khmer New Year Party!
It was such a treat to be invited to Khnar School for their Khmer New Year party. Throwing and wiping baby powder on each other was one of my favorites about the celebration. The concept of wiping baby powder is similar to that of Holi Day in India when they throw bright colors of powder at each other. The young Cambodian kids were all so happy and excited. I absolutely loved dancing to the loud music and the kids had awesome dance moves. It is so great that a school can provide such a fun party for them. In my opinion, I think back in the U.S. it would be difficult to have a huge party similar to theirs. In the U.S., the music would be much softer and I believe many parents would be involved and possibly get in the way of letting the kids run around on their own. It seems in Cambodia, the young kids have much more of a free spirit to roam around on their own. Perhaps this comes from the parents placing more responsibility on them to be independent at a much younger age. Additionally, I think their is a stronger bond of trust that the child will not do something harmful or stupid, and the older sibling will watch them to make sure they are safe. Moreover, all the kids had such great behavior and it seemed there were no problems (very different from the U.S.!)
Cambodia Week One Review
Overall, I am having an amazing time here. I hope to keep building on my relationships with the students, the staff, and beautiful family here at the guesthouse and school.